design training programs based on appropriate learning principles and theories;
In 1876, Samuel Green identified the four main service roles for librarians at the Reference Discussion; instruction of library services was included as one. (Tyckoson, 2008, p. 130) In the United States, users to the then relatively new service of libraries needed help in finding the books and the information they needed. If one looks back far enough in library history, it is clear that libraries were made for a particular group of people, those who could read. As reading and public education spread, it became obvious that reading material needed to be made more available. Books, however, were expensive and a lending library was one way to allow more readers to use a single book. Without widespread education and the need for books, libraries would be unnecessary. While people in 1876 could read, it was likely they did not know how to use the library to find the books they wanted, therefore, Green felt it was the librarian's duty to instruct.
The first users of public libraries needed instruction on how to use all the tools the librarians created in order to find the materials. After the first wave of users was taught, new users were appearing. Immigrants, former slaves and generations of children all needed education on library services. (Tyckoson, 2008, p. 130) This instruction started with reference librarians, since they were out on the floor answering questions. Depending on the library, there might be whole departments dedicated to instruction of users. The need for instruction has clearly not changed much, since modern day undergraduate students are still attending similar library service orientation classes.
The need for instruction of library services has not changed much in the past 133 years but the tools available, as well as the level of library instruction, have. In addition, the need for education has certainly not abated. The reference librarian is not likely to answer the simple factual questions anymore; the ubiquity of the Internet makes looking up facts and phone numbers simple for most users. Now many users come to the reference desk with much more complicated research questions. In these individual transactions, the librarian has the opportunity and task of educating the patron on the way she is doing the search and the tools used. Once the answer is found, she might have to explain how to use the particular information resource that contains the answer.
In my evidence, I am including my review of a face-to-face reference experience because she took the time to show me how to use the information source once she found it. The exercise was to come up with a rather difficult question and take it to the reference desk. The question was what profession has lost the greatest number of jobs to outsourcing in the past ten years. While the librarian did not find a satisfactory answer to the question, she did take the time to show me how to use the almanacs as well as engage me in the search process. This librarian was clearly concerned about making sure I understood how she was searching and coming up with search words. Later in my session, she set me up at a computer station so I could do some searching on my own.
This is the kind of instruction that I feel Green was talking about back in 1876. In his time, there were not computers at anyone's fingertips but plenty of indices, almanacs and printed material. Those were the tools of his time for his patrons. Today, librarians have computers and plenty of digital information resources for their users. The particular question I asked was also not a simple factual question, as I came to discover. I asked it of several librarians and never ended up with a single answer, but rather a lot of material to read and synthesize. Here is where the modern librarian is going to be able to help her patron, by giving them the sources and tools to find their own answers in volumes of work.
Another aspect of instruction is compiling sources for patrons. This can be in the form of websites or in print. For my other piece of evidence, I included a pathfinder on hiking in California. This is a popular sport here in California and many public libraries are packed with books and other sources on hiking. The idea was to put some ideas in one place so patrons can do some of the looking on their own and come to reference for further help and guidance. Other forms of instruction take place in the classroom. While I do not have not have evidence of classes, I taught a class in FrontPage to coworkers many years ago. This course took me many weeks to write and develop. I discovered at the end of my class that I had learned a great deal just through the questions my coworkers asked. This class was to show administrators how to create web pages in a distributed development environment.
For my professional development, I would like to learn more about instruction in a classroom environment. When reviewing my work in the entire program, I found markedly little to support my knowledge of education. I have antidotes from teaching friends and coworkers how to do a particular task with computers, but not much in the written format. Since my career desires lead me towards web development in a university environment, I foresee my instruction to be more on an individual level rather than in a classroom. Teaching in front of a classroom is not where I would like to take my career. I understand and recognize the value and need for it, however, I prefer and am better suited to one on one instruction.
Review of Face to Face Reference Experience
California Hiking Pathfinder